AIDS Expert Cites New Opportunities
February 11, 2002
Treating HIV-positive women early in their pregnancy can dramatically reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to their infants, according to the government's top AIDS expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "There's very little reason for an HIV baby to be born in this country," he said, in a speech to a mostly black audience at a local Baptist church on Saturday in Washington.Adapted from:
In the speech, Fauci highlighted the changing nature of the epidemic. He said blacks have been infected with the disease at a rate 10 times that of whites and other races. But Fauci said that with proper care and early treatment, doctors can prevent HIV from spreading to a fetus in the vast majority of cases. In fact, the rate of infection from mother to child is less than 1 percent when the woman is tested and treated early in the pregnancy. "The most tragic thing is when we see a pregnant woman coming in . . . right before she's getting ready to deliver, and only then finds out," he said.
Fauci also stressed that women, particularly young minority women, are typically infected in monogamous relationships, not through promiscuous behavior on their part. One in four new cases of HIV/AIDS is heterosexually transmitted, he said.
In the meeting, Deborah Mathis, a nationally syndicated columnist, said blacks must mount a tougher fight against the epidemic with politicians and public health officials. "I think that this is an emergency and perhaps we ought to consider getting a little ugly again. We have a lot to fight here. We have to fight our own denial and our own ignorance in our community," she said.
02.09.02; Vanessa Palo
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.